Archive for 2005

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Reducing Disparities in Cancer Health Care

Map of Eastern United States, Highlighting Appalachia Region

Reducing cancer health disparities is one of the key challenges for the National Cancer Institute (NCI). In 1989, former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Louis Sullivan, M.D., organized the NCI Black Leadership Initiative, and formation of a Hispanic and Appalachian Leadership Initiative soon followed in 1992.

In 2001, NCI formed the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities to implement critical tasks in translating discovery into delivery. In 2005, NCI launched a new program to reduce cancer deaths among minority and underserved populations through $95 million in grants that will fund community-based projects in geographically and culturally diverse areas of the country. The new initiative, the Community Networks Program (CNP), is part of NCI’s ongoing efforts to understand why some population groups — often minorities and the poor — have higher cancer rates than others, and to eliminate disparities by involving local communities in education, research, and training.

Cancer Health Disparities: A Fact Sheet

Map of Eastern United States, Highlighting Appalachia Region

Cancer affects people of all racial and ethnic groups. An estimated 570,000 Americans are expected to die of the disease in 2005. However, a close look at cancer rates for racial and ethnic groups reveals some significant differences. Such differences have been described as health disparities. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) working group defined health disparities as differences in the incidence (new cases), prevalence (all existing cases), mortality (death), and burden of cancer and related adverse health conditions that exist among specific population groups in the United States.

A New Understanding of Pain Management

A human silhouette showing pain centers in the chest area and wrist

Ann Berger, M.D., joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2000 to launch and manage the Pain and Palliative Care Service at the NIH Clinical Center. She has lectured and published extensively in her field of medical oncology, pain and palliative care, and is senior editor of Principles and Practices of Palliative Care and Supportive Oncology, published in 1998, 2002, and again in 2006. BenchMarks talked with her about her work in pain management.

How did you become interested in the emerging field of palliative care?

When I was 14, I watched my grandfather die of bladder cancer, and my family was overwhelmed by the impact of his illness. I saw firsthand how the effects of disease can ricochet among family members and back to the patient, and I carried those lessons throughout my training as a nurse and then as an oncologist. As a doctor, I came onto the scene just as the palliative care movement was gathering momentum, addressing the many needs of dying patients…